A B.C. man and an Alberta woman are facing dozens of Food and Drug Act charges related to the promotion of a so-called 'miracle' tonic touted as capable of curing everything from AIDS to autism.
The charges against Stanley and Sara Nowak follow years of Health Canada warnings about the sale of sodium chlorite, a bleach which a global community of believers is convinced can eliminate pathogens and poisons from the body when diluted with water.
Evangelist for miracle solution
Sodium chlorite is a chemical used mainly as a textile bleaching agent and disinfectant. It is authorized for use by veterinarians as a germicide.
But Health Canada has been warning Canadians about the risks associated with human consumption of sodium chlorite since 2010. That's when the federal agency first warned about the presence of the chemical in Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), an unapproved product widely distributed through the internet.
Since then, Health Canada has issued a slew of alerts to both the public and online retailers.
But the underground popularity of MMS and the legend of one of the mixture's chief proponents — Jim Humble — has spread as rapidly as one of viruses the American claims he can eradicate.
Humble is quite literally an evangelist for sodium chlorite, a sacrament in the church he founded to spread his belief that a liquid generated from combining the bleach with water "has proven to restore partial or full health to hundreds of thousands of people" afflicted with everything from cancer to Alzheimer's.
Humble also claims to be a billion-year-old god from the Andromeda Galaxy sent to earth to save humans.
'Pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea'
In Health Canada's most recent warning about the sale of sodium chlorite-related product called "Aerobic Oxygen", the agency said ingesting sodium chlorite can cause poisoning, kidney failure and harm to red blood cells.
"This in turn reduces the ability of the blood to carry oxygen, among other effects," the agency said in an advisory. "Ingesting sodium chlorite can also cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea."
Stanley Nowak faces 29 counts of unlawfully labelling, packaging, selling or advertising sodium chlorite in "a manner that was false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety."
Sara Nowak faces 19 counts. The counts against both were sworn in Vancouver provincial court in November. Both were released on $500 bail. Their latest court appearance was this week.
The charges against Stanley Nowak span a period from January 2012 to January 2017. The charges against Sara Nowak stretch from March 2016 to January 2017. The offences allegedly occurred in B.C., Alberta and Manitoba.
Sara Nowak lives in Okotoks. Reached by phone this week, the 27-year-old declined comment on the charges.
Stanley Nowak lives in the tiny community of Riondel, which sits on the shores of Kootenay Lake, about 50 kilometres northeast of Nelson.
'It has an effect on you'
Stanley Nowak could not be reached for comment about the charges, but he spoke with CBC's The Fifth Estate in 2016 about online sales of MMS and sodium chlorite.
In that interview, he claimed to have sold the product through an online business to customers in Canada, the United States, England and as far away as Japan and Russia. But Health Canada shut him down in 2012.
He claimed to have helped a lot of people.
"It has an effect on you," Nowak told The Fifth Estate's Mark Kelley. "I can't see how they can stop this from going in the same direction it's been going for the past 10 years ... it's working."
The Nowaks are believed to be the first Canadians charged in connection with the sale of MMS.
In 2015, a court in Washington State sentenced a Spokane man to 51 months in federal prison for online sales of a "Miracle Mineral Supplement." Daniel Smith represented himself during a federal trial.
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